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Judge Won't Suspend Beach Bonfire Rules -- For Now

While a preliminary junction isn't approved, a trial is scheduled for a later date.

A Superior Court judge today rejected a request to stop the South Coast Air Quality Management District from moving forward with new rules regarding beach bonfires. Patch file photo.
A Superior Court judge today rejected a request to stop the South Coast Air Quality Management District from moving forward with new rules regarding beach bonfires. Patch file photo.

An Orange County Superior Court judge today rejected a request for a preliminary injunction to stop the South Coast Air Quality Management District from moving forward with new rules regarding beach bonfires.

The Friends of the Fire Rings sought a preliminary injunction to stop the agency from implementing regulations approved in July. The case will continue on to trial at a later date, said Sam Atwood of the AQMD.

Orange County Superior Court Judge Robert J. Moss said the agency had shown enough evidence that the fire pits can be a health hazard.

“The AQMD has presented enough evidence to show that wood burning can be harmful to the health and that it had a rational basis” for clamping down on the fire rings, Moss said in the ruling.

“When that threat to the health of the public is balanced against some slight inconvenience of not being able to burn wood at certain locations or at certain times, for a few months while (the regulations are implemented), the balance tips in favor of the AQMD,” he added.

The Friends of the Fire Rings filed its lawsuit in November.

The AQMD is moving forward with implementing the new rules governing fire rings, but it may still have to contend with legislation that would impose new bureaucratic hurdles in doing so.

On Monday, the Assembly approved a bill forcing the agency to work with local municipal officials and coastal oversight agencies such as the Coastal Commission before any attempt is made to reduce fire rings. The state Senate has not taken up the bill.

The AQMD's board voted narrowly in July to require fire pits be kept at least 700 feet away from the nearest residence or at least 100 feet apart. If a city has 15 or fewer fire pits they must be at least 50 feet apart.

The agency will also restrict the use of bonfires on high pollution days

.--City News Service

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